Friday, February 24, 2006

Late last year, I blogged on Bill Frist's charity and how it paid half a million dollars to members of his political circle.

Turns out that Majority Leader Frist isn't the only top Senate Republican to figure out that this is a good way to pay his friends and supporters. His top assistant, Majority Leader Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, also has a charity, and in a report out today it turns out that his charity not only spends less than half of what it takes in on anything that might be considered 'charitable,' but pays its top employees-- you guessed it, members of Santorum's inner political circle-- tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Among them:

_Maria Diesel, who has been paid fundraising fees by the campaign, is listed as the charity's finance director. Filings show she has received $192,958 in professional fundraising fees from Operation Good Neighbor.

_Robert Bickhart, who has also been involved in raising campaign funds for Santorum, is listed as the charity's executive director. Filings show he has earned $75,000 in salary from the charity since 2001 and that his business, Capitol Resource Group, rents the office space to the charity. The charity has paid $20,437 in occupancy fees, filings show.

Gee, sounds like if I really want to rake in the big bucks, I should go to work for Rick Santorum.

Santorum's charity spent $501,000 out of $1.25 million it raised last year on actual charitable projects. Most reputable charities (i.e. United Way, the Salvation Army) spend more than 90% of what they bring in in donations on projects, with small amounts for overhead.

What is disturbing about the Republicans in Washington is how they keep electing people like these to be their leaders. At best, it shows a profound lack of judgement. At worst, it shows they have developed a tolerance for corruption.

This does make it clear though why so many Republicans support private charities over government programs though. With all the auditors in Government, it is much harder for them to steer the money to their pals than if they funnel it through a charity.

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